X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Please note: Previously subscribers used a 'WebID' to log into the website. Your subscriber number is not the same as the WebID. Please ensure you use the subscriber number when you link your subscription.

Blogs Coffee House

Forget warnings and labels. Make problem drinkers pay for their excess

11 August 2014

1:26 PM

11 August 2014

1:26 PM

It was news to me that there exists an All Party Commons Committee on Alcohol Misuse, but when you think about it, the notion makes complete sense; for evidence, all they need do is nip down the nearest corridor to talk to colleagues hanging out in any of the several bars in parliament. The members of the committee have now suggested that bottles of alcohol should carry health warnings. It’s all a bit American, isn’t it? Over there, they treat alcohol as part of the substance abuse spectrum, with crack cocaine a bit of the way down from gin. I suppose it does no harm to point out that drinking to excess can play havoc with your liver, and the existing exhortations on spirits — Please Enjoy This Bottle Responsibly — are, I’d say, next to useless.

But it doesn’t quite make the point that ‘alcohol’ is not an adequate description for a substance that ranges from a nice Pinot Noir to Barcardi Breezer. It’s like putting warnings on all fat products, ignoring the perfectly obvious distinction between horrible ‘trans fats’, and a nice bit of olive oil or butter. Nor does ‘alcohol’ make the point sufficiently well that the right sort of alcohol, in moderation, may well be perfectly good for you, whereas the bad stuff, taken in quantity, will kill you.

Actually, Edwin Poots, Northern Ireland health minister, is talking rather more sense when he suggests, ever so tentatively, that alcohol abusers ought to pay the NHS for dealing with their excesses. I can see the obvious objections to the moralism implicit in all this — if you’re going for the drinkers, why not the promiscuous for their interesting STD problems? — but I’m all for a bit of moralism myself. Charging alcohol abusers for their costs to the health service usefully identifies the bad drinkers, while leaving those of us who can handle the ill-effects of too much to drink at home unaffected. A charge would, I’d say, be rather more effective as a health warning than any amount of labelling.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.


Show comments
Close